So Jeff and I are safely home from vacation, but that does not mean the memories of the wonderful time we had have faded…..fortunately! As promised, I will share the details of our trip with you – in segments.
This is the first installment, Part 1, and includes the first 4ish days of the trip. We’ll call it Long Island.
We left our house at 10:00 on Sunday, August 2nd and drove about 30 minutes to drop off our beloved Macy, the world’s quirkiest golden retriever. Jeff’s brother (Mike), his wife (Cathy) and their sons (Nate & Ben) agreed to care for Macy while we were away. I’m not sure they knew quite what they were getting into, but as they say, “ignorance is bliss.”
The following is an excerpt from our letter to Macy’s caregivers explaining her routine and habits:
“A few things you should know about her [Macy], in no particular order:
- She will probably hide in the bathtub a lot, provided she can get into it. Don’t worry about her being in there, it’s her happy place! She likes small spaces – so if she can’t make it into the tub, don’t be alarmed if she wedges herself between the toilet and the wall or behind a chair…..it’s her thing.
- She may not eat twice a day….in fact, she may not eat at all in the beginning; but rest assured, she will eat when she is hungry.
- She loves to carry her “babies” [toys] around with her and even likes to take them outside when she goes out to do her business. And she will rip them to shreds to get the squeakers out. If you can, please take the squeakers away from her after she gets them out of the toys or she will eat them.
- When you walk her on the leash, if she gets scared she will try to jump into your arms. Here are the things that may scare her: people, other dogs, leaves, the wind, etc. And if she walks too far, she may start to limp. That’s a sign that she has had enough.
- She licks her feet a lot – it’s a stress thing. Don’t worry if she does, but you may have to raise your voice a bit to get her to stop if it is bothering you.
- She’s a pretty independent little creature and may not hang out with you all the time. That is normal behavior for her.
- Her vet is ….
With the exception of the days we are kayaking, we will be reachable by cell phone. Jeff’s number is (xxx) xxx-xxxx and Jan’s number is (xxx) xxx-xxxx. Although the above may not sound like it, she is pretty easygoing. We just wanted you to know all her little quirks so you don’t worry if they surface.”
We spent some time saying our “farewell-for-nows” to Macy and then hit the road. We drove from central PA to Long Island, which wasn’t too bad a trip. Of course, we hit traffic around NYC and at the beginning of LI; but that’s to be expected.
Because we wanted to explore both the South Fork and the North Fork of Long Island, we made our base camp in Riverhead. We checked into our hotel, dropped our bags and got back into the car (yes, we are gluttons for punishment) and made our way ssssslllllooooowwwwwlllllyyyyy to Montauk. We passed through many towns with many wonderful sights; but because our sights [and our bellies] were set on dinner at The Clam Bar in Montauk we made only one stop to take some photos of a windmill (Jeff really loves it when we pass something and I ask to go back to take pics).
After wending our way through much traffic and many rude drivers, we finally made it to Montauk where we had an alfresco dinner of soup and fried clams. With full bellies, we ventured to ‘The End.’ The end of the South Fork and the Montauk Point Light. We arrived just in time to park, walk to the beach and enjoy the sunset. Sitting on the rocks, listening to the tide roll in and out, and enjoying one another’s company knowing we were still only on day 1 of the trip made all the driving worth it!
That is until we had to get back in the car for the return trip to Riverhead. The roughly 43 mile journey took much longer than expected….what is billed as a 70 minute trip became more like a 120 minute trip with all the traffic and at least one accident (I told you there were rude drivers). We endured – it being vacation and all – but fell happily into bed almost immediately upon returning to the hotel.
A little look at Day 1:
We awoke bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and decided to take a walk in Riverhead before having breakfast and getting all gussied up for the day. Along the route, we plotted our dinner, which was to be noshes from our travels including a Hampton’s tomato – which are celebrated as THE best tomatoes – of course, we had to test that theory. So on our walk through Riverhead we stopped to get a small baguette at The Blue Duck Bakery Café.
After we had eaten a quick bite for breakfast, gotten ready for the day and stopped for a quick coffee, our exploration of the South Fork began. First stop – Southampton. Specifically Tate’s Bake Shop for chocolate bread pudding, which sadly they did not have. But we did not let that deter us. Jeff had read great things about Tate’s chocolate bread pudding so we decided if the chocolate bread pudding was good, the regular bread pudding must be good too. We got a piece to share for dinner, but of course we had to test it in the car just to make sure we had made a solid decision. I can assure you, we did!
After our brief interlude at Tate’s we decided to drive through some of the South Fork towns and look at the homes [a favorite pastime of ours]. My goodness, there are some truly spectacular homes in the South Fork towns between Southampton and Sag Harbor. I don’t know about where you are from, but where we are from there are no helipads in residential areas!!!! In and among the homes, we pulled into little beach entrances and caught glimpses of the water.
After a few hours of driving, we were hungry again and rather than finish the bread pudding, Jeff turned to his trusty little list of possible lunch spots. We decided on Estia’s Little Kitchen in Sag Harbor and I am incredibly glad we did. We had to wait for a table, but that gave us time to explore the grounds and gardens at Estia’s Little Kitchen – had we not had to wait for our table, we likely would have missed some really pretty scenery!
While we waited and meandered the grounds, we also noticed the wide array of cars in the parking lot – from non-descript Chevys to $100,000+ Masaratis. In my opinion, that speaks volumes about the food!
And the food – oh, the food – was definitely worth the wait!!!! We both ordered fish tacos – Jeff’s were off the regular menu and mine were a special, which consisted of grilled striped bass with a mint mojo. When the food was delivered we each took a bite and knew that no matter how slowly we ate, the food would be gone much too quickly. Of everything we ate on the entire trip, the mint mojo at Estia’s Little Kitchen was probably my favorite. It was clean and fresh and bright and sooooooo delish. I was incredibly hopeful that the mojo would be bottled and for sale; but alas, my hopes were dashed. The only salvation is that I get to have a lot of fun trying to recreate it!!!!
After lunch we explored Sag Harbor, looked at some beautiful yachts and then began heading back toward Cooper’s Beach in Southampton. We had decided earlier in the day that we would return to Southampton before sunset to take a long walk on the beach, look at the beach-facing sides of some of the spectacular homes we’d cruised past earlier in the day, and enjoy the sunset.
We made a stop in East Hampton at the Red Horse Market to get some of Chef Pasquale’s famous mozzarella cheese and a few other tidbits for our noshing dinner. We were pleasantly surprised that we were able to have quite a lengthy conversation with Chef Pasquale about cheese, life in the Hamptons and life in general. We also met his business partner, Jeff, and enjoyed looking at the wonderful gourmet offerings in their market.
When we arrived at Cooper’s Beach there was a giant inflatable movie screen in the parking lot and all kinds of family friendly activities under way. We skipped the movie and went straight to the beach for a long walk. We got our toes wet, talked about life and strolled for a while. Then we got our beach chairs out of the car and sat for a while enjoying the beginning of the sun set. About 10 minutes before the sun was ready to dip below the horizon, we raced for the car and headed for a beautiful little inlet we had stumbled upon earlier in the day. We made it just in time to enjoy a show of spectacular colors in the sky.
Upon return to our hotel, we set out quite the noshing feast and got out our books. We nibbled and read and read some more – until we couldn’t keep our eyes open any longer. The Hampton’s tomatoes WERE divine and Chef Pasquale’s mozzarella is a must-try if you ever find yourself in East Hampton!
Snaps from Day 2:
This was the day to explore Long Island’s North Fork – the land of farms and wineries and much more laid-back people than in the South Fork. Again, we started with a quick breakfast at the hotel and a stop for coffee. But rather than heading south, we headed north. We drove along the water for a while and then through some somewhat sleepy towns (especially in comparison to the hustle and bustle of the towns of the South Fork).
We enjoyed the scenery and the sunlight as it shone through the grape vines. We stopped at a roadside farm stand and at Catapano Dairy Farm. I rankled Jeff’s nerves by wanting to stop to take pictures of steeples and various other things along the way; and he indulged me as all good husbands do!
We arrived in Greenport just in time for lunch. And, true to form, Jeff had a plan. Unfortunately the restaurant he picked – one that served oysters (one of the few things he really wanted to have in LI) – was closed for a private event. So we decided explore the town and some of its lovely shops as we came up with Plan B. We bought a reed diffuser (Lemongrass Kiwi Cassis) in one shop, some Mission Fig Balsamic Vinegar at another and browsed through others without making purchases, but still enjoying the wares.
Plan B turned out to be Bruce & Son’s Cheese Emporium in Greenport. Let me just tell you, it may have been our second choice, but the food was first-rate! We shared a bowl of corn chowder and each ordered a pressed sandwich. Jeff ordered the Cubano and I ordered the Pig & Fig. The sandwiches were delicious and so full of flavor; but the corn chowder was life-changing. It was so fresh and so pure it almost made us weep. I am not kidding, nor am I exaggerating. It was quite possibly the best soup I’ve ever eaten. It tasted like all the best things about summer on a spoon!
Satiated, we returned to the car and continued our exploration of the North Fork. As we drove we saw a sign for Orient Beach State Park and we decided to check it out. We wound our way through the park and ended up in a parking lot next to a beautiful beach, where we decided to hang out for a while. We got out our beach chairs and our books and had a wonderful afternoon walking, collecting rocks, reading and napping on the beach. It was one of those perfectly unplanned moments in life where everything works out in your favor! As the afternoon began to turn to evening, we started to get a bit chilly so we decided our time at the beach was through. We stopped for a quick drink at Orient by the Sea and met the dock dog while sipping our cocktails.
As we were driving back along the North Fork to our home base in Riverhead, we decided we shouldn’t miss the sunset so we pulled into a little parking lot at a little beach on the Long Island Sound and watched another magnificent display of God’s handiwork!
Neither one of us wanted dinner after such a wonderful lunch, but we both had a bit of a sweet tooth so we stopped for a twist cone on the way back to the hotel and called it a day!
A Peek at Day 3:
They say, “parting is such sweet sorrow,” but in truth we were ready to continue our journey. We awoke early for a second trip to Orient Point – this time to catch the 9:00 Cross Sound Ferry to Connecticut. A quick shower for each of us, a brief nibble and we were out the door!
We drove back along the North Fork, seeing some of the same sights from Day 3; but also catching new sights along the way. Of course, we made a quick stop for coffee (actually two quick stops) and we made it to the ferry dock 30 minutes early, as instructed. We had just enough time to snap a few “usies” and then we waited in the line to load our car onto the ferry.
We had a relaxing, 80-minute ride. I was going to write my first post about vacation on the ferry; however, God intervened – the battery on the laptop was out of charge. And does God ever know best – it was a great time for introspection, reflection and conversation with Jeff.
A Little Bit of Day 4:
This is where I will leave you for now. In Vacation 2015 Part 2, we will pick up with our arrival in Connecticut, the trip to Maine, dinner Day 4 (not to be missed), and our arrival in Portland!!!!!